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Graduate Assistantships: Democracy Program

The Democracy Program is seeking a qualified graduate student for the 2017-2018 session to conduct research on comparing indicators used to assess the quality and integrity of elections. The overall aim of the research is to help develop a more consistent set of indicators and measures on electoral integrity.

Independent assessments of electoral processes provide a critically important source of credible and unbiased information about the quality of elections and can shape the perceptions of key domestic and international audiences. In addition, high-quality independent assessments provide a road map for electoral reform for national actors and the broader democracy promotion community. However, the potential for positive impacts depends on having assessment methodologies that are based on clear and consistent indicators and data. While there has been a surge in academic and practitioner work on indicators, there is still significant variation and inconsistencies across the various conceptual models and indicators employed by various scholars and practitioners. 

The Democracy Program graduate assistant will focus on several inter-related questions regarding indicators of electoral quality/ integrity and comparisons across assessment methodologies: To what extent is there consistency or inconsistency across methodologies regarding the number and type of indicators used to assess elections? Are the various indicators given equal or differing weights? On what basis? To what extent are context-specific factors brought into the assessment methodologies, e.g., factors such as the closeness of the election results (margin of victory), and the frequency and magnitude of problems in key parts of the electoral process (e.g., clear legal framework, accuracy of the voter list, freedom of expression, secrecy of the ballot, etc.)? Which aspects of the election process are most frequently or consistently assessed positively v. negatively as problem areas? Under what conditions?

The Democracy Program graduate assistant will work directly with the program director on this body of research, which builds upon previously completed research. As an initial step, the graduate assistant will be expected to study and expand on the research conducted so far. This includes a collection of various indicators and data-types used by election observation groups, academic analysts, and others, plus research summaries of case-study reviews of elections and comparisons of different assessment methodologies.


  • Currently enrolled graduate or doctoral student who has completed at least two semesters of academic coursework in a master’s or post-master’s level program
  • A 20 hour per week commitment for a period of 9-12 months
  • Strong research, writing and analytical skills
  • A demonstrated interest in democratic transitions, and should have completed at least one graduate course focused on democracy and elections, democratization, or democracy promotion
  • Familiarity with literature and research regarding the quality of democracy and elections

 Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience with public international law, as well as practical experience in international democracy assistance and/or election observation projects

 Compensation: $14/hour

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